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Cary amends video gaming ordinance, grants license to new establishment

Updated law has specific regulations, formally outlaws 'video gaming cafes'

Nick Jaworskyj, tech supervisor at Awesome Hand Gaming, sets up five video gaming machines in May 2016. Cary trustees recently updated the village ordinance on video gaming.
Nick Jaworskyj, tech supervisor at Awesome Hand Gaming, sets up five video gaming machines in May 2016. Cary trustees recently updated the village ordinance on video gaming.

CARY – Village trustees on Tuesday granted the ninth video gaming license since 2013, when video gaming first was allowed in Cary.

Lucky Bernie’s – featuring sandwiches, salads, pasta salads, wine and beer – is coming to the Cary Square Shopping Center at 724 Route 14. The establishment has other locations in Huntley, Woodstock and Spring Grove, and its owners plan to keep growing.

For the Cary spot, ownership was granted a video gaming license and a liquor license.

But before its approval, the Village Board also approved an amendment to its ordinance on video gaming. The action comes after several discussions on video gaming regulation in recent meetings.

Like many other areas of Illinois, Cary has seen an influx of requests for video gaming licenses since the state began allowing the activity in 2009.

Cary officials decided in 2013 to repeal a prohibiting ordinance they had in place in response to a petition from five existing businesses seeking to add video gaming.

The amendment came about because there wasn’t clear direction in writing from trustees on how village staff should address requests from current and prospective business owners.

Village attorney Julie Tappendorf said in an October Committee of the Whole meeting that once a business owner gets a video gaming license from the state gaming board, he or she thinks they can go to Cary and have video gaming. That’s because the previous village ordinance on video gaming “basically says that video gaming is allowed at any liquor establishment,” she said.

“That’s problematic from the staff perspective,” Tappendorf said.

The updated ordinance has a section specifically stating that the village will not allow “video game cafes” and a definition of what those are.

The Village Board wants to keep cafes – where video gaming is the top source of revenue and main component of the business operation – out of Cary. They prefer the video gaming to be an “accessory” to a business, such as a restaurant with a full kitchen.

Village Administrator Jake Rife said having the board’s direction in writing will help village staff when going through video gaming requests.

“We need to have a little bit more teeth to the ordinance and provide a little more specificity,” Rife said in October, noting that it’s similar to Algonquin’s ordinance. “This isn’t going away, video gaming. We’re going to continue to get requests. It’s not unique to Cary.”

Rife said the ordinance hits on what the board is looking for, but it always can change with direction from the board.

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